‘Parklets’ parked

The plan to put ‘parklets’ at certain points in Argent Street is now on indefinite hold, it seems.

The parklets, formally known at the Mineral and Art Intersections project, were set to be built as part of the Living Museum and Perfect Light project, funded by a BHP grant of $5.7 million.

The grant was first announced in January 2016 by BHP CEO, Andrew Mackenzie, who said the money would go towards the parklets and to create a ‘living museum’.

Nearly two years on and plans for the museum and auxiliary projects are still in the design process, and the parklets have been tabled indefinitely.

A City Council spokesman said the project was on hold and will be looked at again later.

“Given the significant resources that would be required to deliver both projects simultaneously, Council has opted to focus primarily on the Outback Archives project, and is working closely with the architect to finalise the design,” the spokesman said.

“The Mineral and Art Intersections project is currently on hold while this working is taking place, and will be reviewed at a later date.”

The original idea was to build a series of artistic and geological displays at significant intersections on Argent Street which are named after minerals, as well as widen footpaths around them.

The total cost of the project is $2.3 million of the $5.7 million grant, according to the Council’s Operational Plan 2016/17.

The rest of the money is going towards an audit of Broken Hill’s collections and the digitisation of its archives.

The money itself comes to the council in increments as new stages are announced, rather than as a lump sum.

In his original announcement, BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie said the projects would help create a legacy and sustainable foundation for the Broken Hill community.

“Broken Hill has a wonderful story to tell,” Mr Mackenzie said.

“By tapping in to the city’s bold and energetic artistic flair, its rich and colourful history, it will be preserved for generations to come.”

But Councillor Tom Kennedy said it was concerning that two years on, council was still a long way from committing to a project that was described as ‘shovel ready’ when it was first announced.

“It concerns me that they’ve taken the money and not done anything with it,” Clr Kennedy said.

“Council really needs to start showing BHP and the community that they are capable of getting things done,” he said.

“The reality is, digitising the records will take years and they still haven’t got to the point where it’s ready to even have the area where the archives are going to be.

“I don’t think the parklets were the best idea anyway, with the maintenance required, but it’s concerning there’s no timeframe, no guarantee when it will be completed. It’s really not good enough.”

Council resumes this week and the first meeting of the year will be held next month, although it is not know if the BHP grant and associated projects will be discussed then.